More exhibitions at Taupo

Other exhibitions in conjunction with the  Taupo Symposium 2013 were held at the Taupo Museum.

Aotearoa Quilters 12″ x 12″ Challenge ‘Red’ featured in the foyer.

Click here to see all images on Flickr.

Red Challenge

Red Challenge

There were 127 entries and the winner was Sonya Prchal with ‘Gerbra’, showing detail of a gerbra bloom with heavy thread painting. This is the same artist that won with the Schnauzer dog in my last post.

Detail of Gerbra Sonya Prchal

Detail of Gerbra Sonya Prchal

One of my favourite exhibitions was ’37 Sketches: Small Quilt Studies’ by Gwen Marston of Michigan. Gwen is a professional fiber artist, author, and teacher.  She has taught nationally and internationally for over thirty years and has written 26 books. Over the 30 years of experimenting with small quilts as a way to explore various aspects of quilt making she has a pile of over 440  small quilts.

In 2010 she began a new series called ‘Small Studies’ and this exhibition is a result of exploring new techniques, abstract design, colour and composition possibilities. She has also written a book ’37 Sketches : Small Quilt Studies’  where she explains her process for making these small studies using her liberated, improvisational methods, and discusses how the experience of making this series of sketches was like taking a crash course in design.

Gwen MarstonAnother favourite exhibition was ‘My Place’ by Fibres Unlimited, a group that was formed with the aim of encouraging individual expression through their use of an extensive range of fibres.

My Place

Barbara McQuarries work ‘Deep in the Hills’ references the Pike River Mining Disaster in 2010. A simple but powerful work showed 29 crosses of rusted fabric on a stark black back ground. You could not help but pause and remember the miners and their families.

'Deep in the Hills' Barbara McQuarrie

‘Deep in the Hills’ Barbara McQuarrie

Another stunning work was ‘Red Crater’ by Coralie Skinner, the dyed and woven harakeke was inspired by the amazing colours in the red crater on Mt Tongariro.

Red Crater Coralie Skinner

Red Crater Coralie Skinner

This was a  strong exhibition that showed a variety of techniques, excellent workmanship and complimented the other exhibitions well.


Taupo Quilt Symposium 2013

I recently went to Taupo to see the Exhibitions and Merchants associated with the  Taupo Symposium 2013 Fabric Art Festival.

The main Symposium exhibition was held at the Great Lake Centre and featured several small challenges including the USA SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) 2011-2013 Trunk Show and the tutors exhibition.

The most intriguing quilt in the exhibition for me was ‘The Comfort of Stitch’ by Lee-Ann Newton. This won Best Non Traditional Quilt and not surprisingly Viewers Choice.

The exhibition catalogue statement said “The simple act of stitching gives comfort to those grieving, lonely, depressed, sick or just needing to relax. Comforting items made, we get comfort in giving away, passing down, teaching or sharing with others. Hand painted whole art quilt on recycled charity shop top.”

The Comfort of Stitch

The Comfort of Stitch

The Comfort of Stitch detail

The Comfort of Stitch detail

On the back Lee-Ann had attached a printed explanation of her quilt, including an image of the original quilt and her reflections on the simple act of stitch that gives comfort.

She bought the quilt from a Hospice Charity Shop, as a plain cream and strangely appliquéd quilt top, originally as a drop cloth for a bathroom painting job but felt it cried out to be used as a textured canvas for a whole painted cloth art quilt. Her research in to the provenance of the top lead her to believe it was Hmong appliqué.

The quilt includes many symbolic images representing hope, future, faith, eternity, karma and sewing related paraphernalia.

The quilt top was not square when purchased and to retain the history of the cloth Lee-Ann left it this way.

The quilt took well over a year to complete and Lee-Ann worked on the quilt while she was pregnant with her second child.

Another wall quilt that I liked was ‘Set Adrift’ by Sonya Prchal. This won a Judges Award. Sonya’s statement says ” My husband set our Schnauzer adrift. He looked so perplexed, I took his photo. I loved capturing his expression with thread painting, I really enjoyed using free motion quilting to enhance the details.’

Set Adrift by Sonya Prchal

Set Adrift by Sonya Prchal

Check out the detail.  Isn’t that just the saddest face you’ve seen!

Set Adrift detail

Set Adrift detail

Another favourite was ‘Hot Crosses (With deliberate leakage)’  by Catherine Croucher. She had used retro fabrics, probably pre loved, and chose the fabrics by throwing a dice, editing as she went. Cut with scissors and measuring only by eye, not bothered by bias.

'Hot Crosses (With deliberate leakage)'

‘Hot Crosses (With deliberate leakage)’

An interesting series of wall quilts were ‘I am from’ by Wendy Ward based on a poem where she is from, her family and the place she grew up in.

‘I am from I’ shows street names where she has lived.

‘I am from II’ is her as a two year old with street maps where she grew up in printed on the fabric and words of the poem embroidered on the background.

I am from I. II, III and IV

I am from I. II, III and IV

‘I am from III’ (my fave) uses the South island as the woman’s dress. This won an award for Amateur Innovative.

I am from III

I am from III detail

‘I am from IV’ loosely depicts the streets of the town where Wendy grew up.

One fascinating small wall quilt in the tutors exhibition that caught my eye was ‘The Face’ by Pam Holland of Australia. This portrait of an aboriginal woman was stitched with Cheesecloth on a black background. This is part of a series featuring women ‘ripped from reality’.

The Face by Pam Holland

The Face by Pam Holland

More about the other exhibitions in the next post.

Auckland Botanic Gardens

After countless years of driving past the gardens sign I finally paid a visit. Just off the Southern Motorway at Manurewa, it is very easy to find. Covering 64 hectares, development began in 1973 and it opened to the public in 1982. It has an impressive Visitor Centre and Cafe and it is free – thanks Auckland City.

A Fred Graham stainless steel bird sculpture ‘Manu Torino’ welcomes you at the entrance and highlights the association of birds and gardens.

Manu Torino by Fred GrahamI enjoyed the Threatened Native Plant area and their Flax Weaving collection that contains 40 named varieties of Harakeke. There was disappointingly no mention of its natural dyeing properties!

Flax weaving gardenOther impressive areas were the African, Camellia, and the Rose area, that had a NZ Rose garden where they had mixed roses with native plants including  grasses, ground covers and flowering shrubs.

NZ Rose gardenThe Palm Garden contains New Zealand’s largest public collection of palms.

Palm gardenMy favourite area was the Potter Children’s Garden! It features a bog, a desert, a jungle garden and a cool maze. I loved the sundial though there was not enough sun to cast a shadow.


Sunclock in children's gardenThe gardens feature a permanent sculpture collection, some which are not that obvious or labelled. I did pick up a brochure on the way out and realized I had missed half of them! This stone mosaic in the children’s garden is ‘Frangipani’ by John Bottica.

Frangipani by John Bottica

The next biennial sculpture event, Sculpture in the Gardens, will run from 9 November to 16 February 2014, so I’ll certainly be visiting then to see 23 art works from well-known NZ artists including my friend Mia Hamilton of Wellington.

So the Auckland Botanic Gardens are well worth a visit if you are passing.

The Unbakery and Kingsland

I recently had a quick trip to Auckland.

My first stop was The Fabric Store at 139 Newton Road. They have recently rebranded from Global Fabrics, with the same owners, stock, staff etc. They specialise in top quality designer dress fabrics, natural fibers and New Zealand merino products. The Merino products they source are manufactured here with New Zealand wool.

The shop is light and airy and tidy and all rolls are labeled with the fabric content and price.

The Fabric StoreThe staff are all very helpful and knowledgeable, with most of them having studied or are studying Textile or Design.

I remember the first time I visited was with fellow course participants during the India Flint course in January. They had a 50% off sale and we were like kids in a candy shop.

I prefer to use pre loved fabrics for my dyeing and whilst wool, blankets, cotton and linen are reasonably plentiful, it is hard to find cream or white silk in Op Shops.

I needed more cream Merino to make Ponchos, as the two at the exhibition sold and I have an order for another one. I was spoilt for choice with various weights and prices available.

Cream MerinosWe talked about the composition of Viscose and its ability to take up the natural dye. It is made from cellulose that has been extracted from wood with chemicals and salts added, so will be interesting to see if it takes the natural dye. They gave me generous samples of Silk Viscose and Silk Lycra to try so I will let them know the results which may be helpful for other such inquiries.

We also visited Little Bird Organics and Unbakery, 385 New North Road, Kingsland.

the unbakeryThey specialise in raw, (ie no heating above 46°C ensures the food retains all its enzymes and nutrients and its life force) organic, vegan, sugar and gluten-free food.

I enjoyed Carter’s Sprouted bread, that was made with chia seeds, buckwheat and millet and was topped with smashed avocado, micro greens and kraut.

IMG_1067It was delicious, the fermented kraut was sour against the sweetish avocado, interesting textures and tastes together. This was washed down with a pot of tea of fresh turmeric, lemongrass and ginger.

The cabinet was full of delicious looking cheesecakes, (I wonder what they are made from) and other goodies.

the unbakery cabinet

There were tempting treats to purchase, exotic teas, granola, crackers, coconut oils, glass straws and lots more.

I will be back again to try the Caramel & Pumpkin seed brittle Milkshake, made with cashew ice cream!

It was a great experience  and I definitely recommend it if you are looking for that something different.

Other interesting stops we struck in New North Road were Mixt, an art and design store with all New Zealand made goods, next door was a Retro shop that is only open in the weekends but looked to have a great selection of goods. Also the Royal Jewellery Studio, featuring New Zealand designed and made contemporary jewellery from 36 invited jewelers.

IMG_1075I parked beside the Hotere Mural in Kingsland. The mural, by graffiti artist Askew One, is based on a photo by Marti Friedlander and pays homage to one of New Zealand’s most prominent artists who died in February.

Hotere Mural

I enjoyed my first ever visit to Kingsland. It had a lot of character with old buildings and funky shops.


Meeting notjustnat

It was a special day today as I met fellow eco dyer and blogger Natama of notjustnat blog, and Mr notjustnat (as she refers to her husband).  I have been following her blog for some time. She is a natural dyer, quilter, basket maker and weaver from Melbourne and has lived an interesting life in many countries.  Recently she mentioned she was visiting New Zealand  to visit family and deliver a quilt top to Donna Ward at Donnas Quilt Studio in Hamilton, who has been machine quilting her quilts for 10 years. Donna is a good friend of mine so I emailed Nat and mentioned that I had an exhibition on and would she like to see it. She emailed back to say she would be in Hamilton on 11 July and would love to see it. I phoned Donna today to see if Nat had visited and she just happened to be in her studio!! So she visited the exhibition today.

It was lovely to meet her and we swapped dyeing ideas and chatted non stop. She had several samples of her natural dyeing,

notjustnat dyed samples

and a beautifully hand stitched pojagi of her dyed silks. I love the simplicity of pojagi and have several pieces I purchased in Korea.

notjustnat  pojagi sampler

She also had a coil basket of her dyed cloth that she is hand stitching while travelling.

notjustnat  coil basket

She very kindly gave me this beautiful vintage silk kimono dyed piece. 

notjustnat silk sample


It was great to chat to a fellow natural dyer and we had in common that we both enjoy the serendipitous results of dyeing and are not interested in the ‘science’ of it.

I look forward to keeping in contact with notjustnat and visiting with her next time I am in Melbourne.

Check out her blog at

Nat and Marion

Nat and Marion

Friday at the Park

It was a stunning winters day on Friday, a cool start but the sun shone and actually had some warmth in it.

Looking toward Pirongia

Looking toward Pirongia

The Park has its winter coat on with most of the autumn colour finished but there was still stunning colour around.




The Quarry pond looked dark and still with no sign of the usual fish.

Looking down on the Quarry Pond

Quarry pond

Quarry pond

Remember the fabric I had wrapped around the Kahikatea trunk with Harakeke?

Kahikatea trunk wrapped

Here are the results.


P1200837Wool blanket – front – showing the Harakeke (Flax) strapping marks


Reverse of wool blanket that was against the trunk




The cotton I had buried under the Tanekaha tree mulch for eight weeks had been eaten by presumably worms!!


I am not sure if these fabrics will be coloured after rinsing as there has been no heat. Will keep you posted.

I put a brew on of walnuts that had been soaking for about 4 weeks. They were rather smelly when they came to the boil!! This is a merino scarf that I folded in half lengthwise, inserted Gum leaves and wrapped it around a PVC pipe. I like the string marks but will over dye it as its looking a bit pale.


I had a lovely chat to Irene, a spinner and weaver from Auckland who was visiting the Park for the first time after attending the Creative Fibre exhibition in Cambridge. She has done a lot of wool dyeing over the years for weaving and gave me tips on mordants, recommended several books that I had not heard of, and plants worth growing for dyeing ie Madder and Woad, so will research these.

Unfortunately the Sculpture Park closes its gates to the public after 30th June. This is a huge loss of a great asset to the region. The Trust are investigating alternate funding avenues that hopefully come to fruition.

If you are keen to continue visiting you can arrange to purchase an annual pass for $50 per adult. It will also remain open for events.

My three-month residency has been an invaluable and most enjoyable experience. Being surrounded by nature and art in that stunning environment is good for the soul.  I have learnt a lot about plant dyes and a lot more about trees and plants. I have loved chatting to visitors and exposing them to the beauty and simplicity of natural dyes.

I will continue to visit the Park and look forward to observing many more seasonal changes. There are still many more trees I would like to dye with, particularly our natives.


Colour from Nature exhibition

‘Colour from Nature’ showcases my recent work as Artist in Residence at the Sculpture Park. Held in the David Lloyd Gallery in Lake Crescent, Hamilton, a small but spectacular space with excellent lighting including natural light from a raised roof feature. David is a legendary Hamilton identity, ex Davids Emporium, who is an artist, philanthropist and I am privileged to call him a special friend and supporter.

David Lloyd Gallery and Studio thanks to Jennie de Groot

David Lloyd Studio (left) and Gallery (right)  Photo thanks to Jennie de Groot

Thank you to my friends Grace and Donna who helped me install the work. Some Items were suspended which were tricky to install but it all looked professional.

The opening was very well attended with lots of friends, fellow textile artists and other artists mingling and enjoying mulled wine and marshmallows. I had a large vase of Eucalyptus cinerea and a pot brewing to add to the experience!


The statement piece on the end wall is a sampler of stunning dyed raw edged pieces organically stitched to a dyed cotton lawn background that I had used a metal hinge in the pot. Made up of silks and cottons, this piece showed different methods, including rolling silk on Raupo, around an iron rod and stone bundled. It showcased the variety of colours and patterns achievable. I used small black eyelets to hang it, which were effective and unobtrusive.

A touch of iron cropped

A popular stitched works was ‘Brown Long’ with the centre piece featuring cotton and linen stitched onto a cotton background that had been mordanted with Soya milk and rolled on an iron pipe and boiled. The wool batting was dyed with walnut and left exposed. It was hung by black eyelets. With a tinge of pink it looked very moody.

Brown long

Another stitched work was ‘Brown square’, using mainly Habotai silk and cotton it is stitched onto a dyed wool blanket. Eyelets were used to hang it.
Brown square cropped

As the exhibition had a short lead in time I displayed my sampler that I made in the India Flint class in January 2013 and to promote her next class in Titirangi in January 2014. I acknowledged India and Glenys Mann for igniting my passion for natural dyeing and eco prints.
India Flint class sampler

There were also several stand alone pieces not stitched, just beautiful samples of silk and silk organza.

On the other wall were the suspended pieces.

A wool blanket mordanted with Alum and Cream of Tartar featured Oak, Eucalyptus cinerea and Liquid Amber (right)

The work I featured on the publicity was the most popular work and sold first to my cast glass friend Di Tocker of Hamilton.


I had also dyed a wool T Shirt and a wool blend long sleeved T shirt (right).

The two Merino Ponchos were popular and both sold.
The pattern is from the book Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin.

Ponchos cropped

Alternate way to wear Poncho

Alternate way to wear Poncho

Visitors were fascinated with the bowl of threads. Each time I have a brew on I try to remember to throw in either cotton or silk thread for stitching later.

Natural dyed cotton and silk

Special visitors over the weekend included textile artists Louise Porter and Allie Snow from Auckland.

Louise Porter, Allie Snow from Auckland and Anne Bell from Hamilton

L-R Louise Porter, Allie Snow and Anne Bell from Hamilton

Also two very special visitors and fellow class mates from the India Flint class made a spontaneous decision to drive from Auckland.  Heidi Monks from Titirangi, organised the India Flint class and Andrea Eimke from Atiu Island, Cook Islands who runs the Atiu Fibre Arts Studio and was in Auckland on a one-week workshop at AUT learning about incorporating electronic components into her art.

Heidi and Andrea outside David's studio

Heidi and Andrea outside David’s studio

Five works have a red maple leaf beside them (in lieu of a red dot) and are going to a new home!

I am thrilled with the presentation and the response I have had to my work with many words of praise and encouragement. Visitors were genuinely interested in the process and amazed at the variety of results.

The exhibition will be up for another few weeks. If anyone would like to see it please email me at to make arrangements to view it.